If you’ve ever considered a Prius Hybrid, but were hedging a bit, you may want to act now.
Prius set the benchmark for others and actually began this hybrid class since it debuted in Japan 20 years ago. Introduced here in 2012, this fourth generation Prius has been the forerunner for subcompact hybrid cars. And since its introduction back then, has a proven track record for dependability, quality and economy.
If you need a commuter car, a second car, college student car or as many use it, a dependable only car, then now’s the time to buy a Prius C.
We say that because Toyota is discontinuing this smaller and least expensive C version. The reason is that Prius is offered in Prime, a plug in version offering about 23 miles on a single charge, Touring and traditional Prius. Another reason is that the company has announced an AWDe Prius this week at the LA Auto Show that will be in dealers’ showrooms in the Spring.
As for the C, it comes with Spartan amenities making it the perfect, affordable, urban liftback. If your commute is primarily city driving, Prius C can fill the bill very nicely. All this while offering excellent fuel economy, plus it retains a high resale value and has shown to have the lowest 5-year cost-to-own rating in the auto business.
Prius C is powered by a 1.5-liter 4-cylinder with 73-hp and 82 lb/ft of torque for the gasoline engine alone. Add the electric motor and total system output is 99-hp. Coupled to a ECVT automatic transmission, the C is far from a neck snapper. But it has sufficient acceleration and passing power under normal driving conditions. It attains EPA mileage estimates of 48 city, 43-highway mpg.
The powertrain has driver selectable ECO and EV modes. In ECO mode the engine is programmed to provide the best fuel economy, whereas EV drives the car on battery power alone at low speeds for about a mile. This comes in handy when in stop & go traffic tie-ups or when running to the local grocery store. A Power mode increases mid-range engine response. There’s also Prius’ regenerative braking system that acts like a generator by adding kinetic energy as electrical power and storing it in the hybrid battery pack when the car is slowing down and braking.
Ride quality on 16-inch Bridgestone tires is a bit stiff. This is inherent in short wheelbase cars and as such road imperfections can be felt. But on highways and interstates, Prius C settles down and smooth’s out making for a comfy ride. And because of its size, the C parks easily thanks to a tight turning radius.
Handling is on par with cars of this size but in strong cross-winds, the wind buffets it requiring constant steering inputs.
Inside the cabin, the perforated, supportive and heated front leatherette seats with contrasting stitching that gives it an upscale appearance. The vertical stack houses a 6-inch touchscreen with rearview camera, navigation and apps that includes a handy weather app. Its HVAC controls are super simple and set in a small pod on the vertical stack.
In the back seats there’s a surprisingly spacious amount of overall room. Legroom is adequate provided the fronts aren’t racked well rearward.
Behind them in the cargo area that has a wide opening hatch, stowing items is easy with a low 25.5-inch load height. With the 60/40 rear seats up, the cargo area measures 26 inches deep, 38.5 wide and 27 high. Flip them and cargo depth extends to 55 inches. And below the cargo floor, some small items can be stowed within the space saver tire rim.
With a host of standard safety features and functions, and as the least expensive Prius offered, the test car carried a base price of $24,965. The only extra cost options were 16-inch spoke wheels ($300); special color ($395 – sparkling-in-the-sun metalflake paint); carpeted floor and cargo mats ($224) and a delivery of $895 brought the bottom line to a very reasonable $28,779.
Added to this, Prius received four out of five overall safety stars in the governments safety ratings; four for driver/passenger frontal crash; three for front seat side crash, five for rear seat side crash; and four for rollover.
If you can find a C on dealers’ lots, it’s likely they’ll make you a deal you can’t refuse. It’s year end and they have to move the iron.